Greece’s victorious conservative leader sought a new coalition government after elections, pledging on Monday to soften the debt-laden country’s punishing austerity programe despite opposition from Germany.
A brief relief rally on international financial markets after Sunday’s Greek vote quickly fizzled out as it became clear that Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy had failed to win a convincing popular mandate to implement the deep spending cuts and tax increases demanded by the European Union and the IMF.
Radical left-wing bloc Syriza and a host of smaller parties opposed to the punishing conditions attached to the $164.12 bn bailout won around half the votes cast, though fewer seats because the electoral system rewards the
first placed party disproportionately.
Samaras received a mandate to form a coalition government from the president on Monday, and said the country would meet its bailout commitments.
But he added: “We will simultaneously have to make some necessary amendments to the bailout agreement, in order to relieve the people of crippling unemployment and huge hardships.”
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reported from Athens, where he compared the atmosphere to that of a “tinderbox”, and that any new government would have to contend with deep-seated political and demographic divisions.
“The real worry is that if there’s a weak government, Syriza is going to weigh in and bring it down,” he said.
He said that a government would likely be formed and that there was unlikely to be a repeat of the standoff that followed the May elections.